Book by cultural icon pays tribute to the traditional Malay dwelling

Article by Farah Fazanna Zulzaha

metd_ft_2503_20aLat (left) and Areca Books founding partner Abdur- Razzaq Lubis sharing a moment to read Tenas Effendy’s newly launched book of poems.


A BOOK of poems dedicated to traditional Malay houses has recently been launched.

Penned by the cultural icon Tenas Effendy, Rumah: An Ode to the Malay House presents Tenas’ classic tribute to the Malay house alongside a lively English translation by Raimy Ché-Ross, making the work accessible to new audiences.


‘An Ode to the Malay House’ is available on and leading bookstores nationwide.
Malaysian cartoonist Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid, better known as Lat, launched the 112-page book at Kuala Lumpur Gallery recently.

Lat said the new generation should appreciate the traditional Malay house.

“It is a cultural icon, and we should remember and hold on to the tradition that makes up our identity,” said Lat.

The book also includes a foreword and illustration by Lat.

Much to the amusement of guests, he also shared his experience in illustrating the iconic cover for his The Kampung Boy comic with the audience.

“Peruse Rumah and appreciate the thousand and one meanings within its pages,” said Lat.


Guests to the Rumah: An Ode to Malay House book launch took the time to enjoy the illustrations by London-based illustrator Ahmad Harun.

Guests admiring illustrations of the traditional Malay house by London- based illustrator Ahmad Harun.


The book is furnished with illustrations by London-based illustrator Ahmad Harun, whose work is mostly in watercolour, acrylic and oil, that gives a breath of life to Tenas’ poems.

The book will delight lovers of poetry, architecture and Malay culture.

Architect and ecologist Datuk Dr Ken Yeang, who spearheaded the book, said the traditional Malay house was a cultural icon that the nation was fast losing.

“Many of today’s youth are born and bred in the city — mostly in high-rise apartments, in contemporary bungalows and terrace houses — and are not fully conversant with the village way of life.

“It is, after all, such values that makes us culturally different,” he said.

Rumah is currently available from Areca Books on and leading bookstores nationwide.


Originally published on The Star OnlineTuesday March 25, 2014